I realize I have been awfully heavy on comfort food lately (not to mention that I have a backlog of posts that are almost all in that category), but something about the start of fall just makes me want to cook soups, chili, stews, and comforting meals. In an effort to keep the same delicious, comforting flavors without gaining 5 pounds overnight, I made these chicken and dumplings. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't necessarily call it healthy, but it is definitely better than the cream-laden versions that I'm sure we're all used to. This particular recipe really lets the chicken flavor shine though, and they taste well, more chickeny.
Now on to the recipe. I am absolutely in love with this. Hearty, comforting, delicous...a wonderful classic just amped up. Once again, Cook's Illustrated took out all the guesswork and created this wonderful dish.
I used the recommended chicken thighs, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be substituted (with a little loss of flavor). You will just simmer them for 20-30 minutes, waiting for the internal temperature to reach 160.
I was also a little torn on the idea of using chicken wings, but I think it really gave extra flavor to the broth, and the white meat was a nice addition to the thighs. It is definitely optional to add the meat from the wings, but it literally fell off the bone anyway; plus I don't like to waste food.
The original recipe serves 6, but I halved it with no problems. This was a great Sunday night dinner, and the leftovers made for a hearty lunch the next day. Don't wait - make this soon!!
Lighter Chicken and Dumplings
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, September 2009
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (about 2 1/2 lbs)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 small onions, chopped fine (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (2 cups)
- 1 celery rib, chopped fine (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup dried sherry or dry white wine
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
- 1 pound chicken wings
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 5 minutes
- 1 large egg white
Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry or wine, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot and add chicken wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes (as a side note, when I halved this recipe it only took 35-40 minutes to reach this point).
Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs (and wings, if using) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot
Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.
Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of stew, spacing about ¼ inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.